KARACHI: Cyber harassment, whether on or off campus, is as damaging to women as physical violence and abuse. To be disconnected from technology in the 21st century is akin to having your freedom disrupted as it hinders your right to learn, right to meet people, freedom of speech and your right to work.
These views were expressed by the United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary General and Women Executive Director Phumilze Mlambo-Ngcuka while addressing students and faculty members at Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST). She called for their commitment to end sexual harassment on campus. Sexual harassment is intolerable and now is the time for stronger action, she said.
SZABIST Vice President Nasreen Haque proposed a Consortium of Chairs of anti-sexual harassment committees of universities in Karachi to share their experiences. She said that consorted efforts and the power of solidarity is needed to promote the full realisation of women’s rights.
Pakistan’s anti-sexual harassment laws recognise that sexual harassment is a form of discrimination against women and a human rights violation that occurs in many arenas of life, including schools and universities. In any university, sexual assault or sexual harassment is unacceptable.
The safety and wellbeing of students and staff who disclose or report sexual assault or sexual harassment needs to be at the centre of a university’s response in such cases.
This year, the UN’s theme for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo’. As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement has picked up in Pakistan, more cases are being reported, making offenders accountable.
It has also exposed how prevalent violence against is across arenas; from the entertainment industry to work places including government offices and educational institutions. #HearMeToo aims to support those whose voices are still not being heard.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2018.